You read it right. As of yesterday, the biggest producer of SUGARY FIZZY DRINKS in the WORLD has teamed up with UK Active to help those chubby, Coke-guzzling Brits get healthy. The new fitness program dubbed Coca-Cola Zero Parklives, plans to offer thousands of free sessions and coaching for families in over 70 parks across England.
So far so confused. Since the announcement, nutrition campaigners have been up in arms, even calling the campaign "obscene." But Coca-Cola has been pushing an international anti-obesity message since 2013 with the Happiness is Movement campaign:
Dr Aseem Malhotra, cardiologist and science director for the Action on Sugar campaign group, told The Daily Telegraph: "I think this is a really disingenuous stunt. They are trying to deflect attention from their own part in creating an obesity epidemic, which has been fueled almost entirely by rising calorie consumption."
Since fizzy drinks and fruit juices have received such negative attention from health authorities and the media due to their high sugar content, it is hardly surprising that Coca-Cola wants to try cleaning up their image.
In the UK, a report commissioned by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey in April found that children between 4 and 18 months are consuming around 40% more sugar than is recommended. They also suggested that drinks like Coca-Cola contributed to 30% of sugar intake of those aged between 11 and 18 despite Coca-Cola saying their UK sales are made up of 40% zero calorie drinks.
Those numbers are certainly on par with American habits. A report from the 2005-10 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey estimated that we consume about 22.2 teaspoons of sugar a day or 355 calories worth (and that does not include naturally-occurring sugars in fruit and dairy products). That's really bad considering the average woman is recommended to ingest only 100 calories worth of sugar per day and a man shouldn't have more than 150.
But, and it's a big but, while Coca-Cola is packed full of sugar (the stuff can clean toilets for goodness sake), and even Diet Coke can lead to weight gain, we're the ones who choose whether to consume it or not.
No one from Coca-Cola is going out there and forcing you to buy their products. We buy them because they taste so damn good and it's the only thing that can ward off a particularly bad hangover. Personally, I don't buy Coke because I think it's healthy. I'd like to believe no one else is that stupid either.
So aside from the health professionals, here's what the the Brits had to say about the new initiative:
If Coca-Cola wants to rid their conscience and offer FREE fitness classes around the UK, many of our cousins over the sea will participate. Hell, if there was a free Zumba class in Central Park every Sunday, it'd be hard to pass that up!
Yes, it's hypocritical and a rather obvious marketing ploy, but it's a hell of a lot more than other companies are going to do for you. And at the end of the day and in these hard times we face, you should never turn down sh*t if it's free.
Would Coke's controversial move fly in the U.S.? Tweet us at @wewomenUSA and join the debate.